3/30/2012 | Share this article:By Klym ~
Being a school counselor, I deal with the neglect and abuse of children frequently. It never ceases to hurt and disturb me deeply when a child has suffered at the hands of an adult that they love and trust.
Anyway, I had to deal with a horrific case of abuse recently and something one of the adults said to me about it really upset me. The child had made the first outcry to this adult who then came to me for advice on what to do about it. In the course of our conversation, the adult said, "It's a miracle the child told me---it truly is a God thing." My first thought was that yeah, it was a miracle. Then my next thought was----Where the *&$^#*& was God when this child was suffering the abuse? Geez, I sure am relieved that He decided to show up SEVERAL days later and work a freakin' miracle. REALLY??!!! The child could have been dead by that time! Then, true to my Christian past, I started feeling guilty. Maybe there is a God and he really does care....I thought.....for a split second. Then I thought, NO WAY am I going there again. I am too old and too tired to overthink this thing. There are brutal, mean, sick people in this world and there is no deity who stops them or intervenes for an innocent child. Case closed.
But, here's the kicker. I really, truly LOVE and ADMIRE the adult that said this to me. This person is an extremely compassionate individual who works with special needs children and treats them with kindness and an empathy that is astounding. This person is amazing in every way. I would never, ever say to them what I am saying in this testimony and I respect them immensely. In fact, it surprised me that this person said this because they had never mentioned religion before and appeared to me to be a freethinker. So, I was somewhat shocked that they made that statement.
It reminded me that many very intelligent, kind people believe that a God is in control and take comfort from believing that he/she cares. It leaves me feeling torn. On the one hand, I sometimes wish I could still believe like that, and on the other hand, I think it is ridiculous and harmful to believe such a thing. I want to do two different things at once---hug them and believe with them, and then yell at them about how in the hell they could believe that a loving deity would just sit back and observe a child being abused and DO NOTHING. (Actually, we did hug several times that day--it was an extremely stressful day and it's the human thing to do to support each other through hard times.)
Such is the dilemma that I'm sure all of us here at Ex-C experience from time to time. Sometimes I find it a very heartbreaking place to be. If people knew my secret thoughts when they say such things, what would they think of me? Or, perhaps they think the exact same thing that I do, but they hide behind the idea that God will take care of these awful situations. Or, maybe when they are in crisis mode, that's just where their thoughts automatically take them---a coping mechanism of sorts.
As for me, there is nothing that can explain away, or rationalize, or trivialize child abuse, or any other form of human suffering. Bottom line, that's what bothers me most about religion---how it minimizes and excuses suffering. This path of non-belief is a not an easy one, but I will never return to a belief system that glorifies suffering. I wish I'd never known that system in the first place! I wonder what that would be like---to never have to overcome and let go of all those falsehoods....wow....I can't even imagine it.....